Welcome to another edition of "Visions for Vacancies," where we visit a local vacant commercial building and ask you what you'd like to see go in that space.
Today, we’re at very familiar site to Midtown residents and that’s the homeless shelter building at the corner of Peachtree and Pine streets. Of course to the dismay of many frustrated Midtown residents, this building isn’t vacant and has been housing hundreds of homeless men for last 15 or so years.
That’s when Coca-Cola heiress Ednabelle Wardlaw purchased the 100,000-square-foot former auto parts warehouse and donated it to the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. Over the last decade and a half, the shelter has generated a number of problems for Midtown and surrounding neighborhoods. At all hours, drug activity can seen in the across-the-street parking lot and Atlanta Police Department officials have confirmed that a certain amount of criminal activity that occurs in Midtown originates from those staying at and around the shelter.
Over the years, surrounding businesses have reported that staff and patrons have been accosted by men lingering around the shelter. When Patch went to photograph the shelter recently, several men in the parking lot verbally assaulted the photographer. The general consensus from Midtowners is that the shelter been a blight on the neighborhood, bringing crime to the local area and damaging property values.
The Task Force piled up hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid utility bills over the years and two years ago, the nonprofit Ichthus Community Trust bought two outstanding liens on the building and then foreclosed on it. Ever since, the Task Force has been fighting eviction through a series of lawsuits.
In early February, it looked as if the Task Force had run out of options as Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall ordered the Task Force to leave the shelter and turn it over the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, which would take six months to find housing for the men who stay there.
But on the day the shelter was to be turned over the United Way – Feb. 15, 2012 - that decision was blocked by the Georgia Court of Appeals, which granted the stay until "it decides on the issues involving whether the Task Force can make a direct appeal to the Court." That decision process is still on going.
And so while it does, Patch asks this:
Do you think this building should remain a homeless shelter? Why or why not? And if no, what should replace it?
Don’t concern yourself with things such as setback regulations and other zoning issues the city has to deal with. We want to know that if it were up to you, what would you like to see there? What would be the best use for the community in this space right now?
About this column: In highlighting vacant buildings in Midtown, we aim to help residents take a proactive role in planning and building their community. We'll take your feedback to public officials and property owners, to inform their decisions about future uses. Know of a vacant building we should highlight? Email email@example.com.